Meet… Electra Govoni

electraEagle Investment Systems’ Strategic Project Manager, Electra Govoni, discusses her role as part of Eagle’s Diversity Council and the Women’s Initiative Network as well as how these efforts feed into Eagle’s innovative culture.

Q: You’ve been with Eagle for a decade now and serve as the chair of Eagle’s Diversity Council and the Women’s Initiative Network. Over that time, how have you seen the organization evolve as it relates to diversity?

A: It’s interesting because we’ve really matured as an organization overall, having grown from a tech startup when the company was founded to now representing a key part of BNY Mellon Technology Solutions. There are things that you really love that come with being part of a startup, particularly the innovation and creativity that define the culture. At the same time, the stability that comes with consistent and steady growth allows you to do a lot of different things as an organization that you couldn’t do otherwise. Still, there are challenges that every company faces as they mature. For instance, to maintain a truly innovative culture, you have to build an infrastructure to support that environment as you grow. Similarly, you have to implement processes that allow you to maintain the creativity that helped fuel your growth in the first place. The diversity program here at Eagle is a critical component in keeping that creative culture in place. It helps ensure that we’re bringing together people with different backgrounds and perspectives, all aligned towards helping our clients’ solve their business needs.

Within both financial services and the technology space, in particular, you have to continually evolve the product set and services you offer. Eagle’s Diversity Council and our Women’s Initiative Network within that—as well as other resource groups available to employees—are designed to support this evolution. The goal of each group is to make sure that Eagle is doing everything it can to attract the full breadth of possible candidates to our organization. And of equal importance, to make sure we provide the support and foundation necessary to keep that diverse pool of talent after they join the Eagle team.

Q: There were some high profile cases in the news last year as it relates to gender balance in the technology industry. Have you personally experienced any challenges?

A: Having worked in the financial technology space in a number of different capacities and for quite a while, I’ve seen considerable variety as it relates to the makeup of teams. For instance, there have been plenty of times where I was the only woman in the room, and then there have been plenty of other times where the majority of senior teams were comprised of women.

Here at Eagle, we’ve done a great job attracting and supporting a diverse cross section of employees. The impetus is that above all we’re focused on finding the best individuals that can work within a team to achieve some very lofty goals. That has to be the centerpiece. The challenge is to make sure the organization is continually striving to cast its net as wide as possible to attract talent regardless of nationality, skin color, sexual orientation, or any other superficial trait.  I’m a true believer that your organization becomes richer and stronger through diversity. The key is to continually push ourselves to ensure we’re doing everything we can to attract the best talent and to then build the strongest possible cultural fabric between those talented individuals.

Q: What are some of the more notable initiatives that you’ve pursued as part of the Diversity Council and Women’s Initiative Network?

A: The Diversity Council is an organized group that supports a number of diversity-focused resource groups within Eagle. The Women’s Initiative Network, WIN, sits within the Diversity Council along with other employee-resource teams, such as IMPACT, which focuses on multicultural recruitment, retention and professional development, and HEART (Helping Each Ability by Respecting and Teaching), a resource team focused on providing an inclusive work environment for people with disabilities, as well as others.

There are really so many great initiatives to come out of these groups that it can be difficult to choose just one. We have an employee whose child has juvenile diabetes but had initially been misdiagnosed. So the HEART team helped organize a series of events to help educate people around the symptoms of juvenile diabetes. A specialist came in for a presentation, there were also several educational pieces published to help spread awareness around the disease, and we hosted a fundraising event internally, in which various teams helped create an indoor mini-golf course with employees paying a donation fee to play. Through these initiatives we were able to spread awareness around the disease, raise around $7,000 for research funding, and we were also able to come together in a team-building exercise that saw the whole organization take part and contribute.

Within the Women’s Initiative Network, one of our key focus areas has been a mentoring program in which we pair women team members with mentors from throughout the organization. The groups generally meet every other week and the program helps create a framework around goal setting in addition to helping employees understand how to best achieve their career objectives. We’ve had roughly 70 women go through the mentorship program in the four years that it’s been in place, and some have gone from being a mentee to serving as a mentor, now helping other women grow in the organization.

Q: You recently attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Can you discuss some of the takeaways that came from that event?

A: Absolutely. I’ve attended this event quite a few times. This past year the theme was focused on the idea that you have to keep moving forward to evolve in your career. And to keep moving forward you have to take smart risks that open up new opportunities for you. The message and the programming really help to inspire confidence in young women. It makes you realize that anytime you take on a new challenge there’s going to be an uncomfortable stretch during which you’re learning something new—it’s empowering to know that it’s the same for everyone. The worst thing you can do is be ambivalent and put off making decisions because you’re fearful of making a mistake. It’s far better to be decisive and then course correct as needed because that way you’re moving toward a goal.

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